What we can learn from The Ballet

So, last night I had some Mother and Daughter bonding time and booked in to go and see The Sleeping Beauty performed at the Royal Opera House.  Although it was the glamorous evening we had planned, we did not make our way all the way into London but watched it at our local cinema (no names mentioned!).  Usually, when you see the Ballet live, you do not get a synopsis of the performance unless you purchase a programme, so it was interesting to see that at the cinema we had two presenters, one being Darcy Bussell, telling us all about the performance, the storyline and what we were going to be experiencing.

Gold star #1:

There were subtitles!! Yes, I know that deaf people around the UK will be shocked to know this, as so few performances have subtitles.  It seems to me that if you have a showing on and it is scripted, there should be subtitles for as many as possible/if not all, showings.

Sad fact # 1:

It was sad to see, however, that due to the presentation being streamed live, there were no subtitles during the live interviews – which was a real shame seeing as these live subtitling services are available.

Sad fact # 2:

It makes me wonder whether deaf audiences would have even known that the ballet was being made accessible via subtitles?!  I guess we’ll never know…..

Gold star # 2:

The ballet itself!  Seeing Sleeping Beauty performed with simple accompaniment music clearly expressed how much mime is used in ballet.

The Lilac Fairy, the character whose role is to protect The Sleeping Beauty, uses very clear gestures to say ‘she will die’ and then gestures ‘not’ when she is communicating with the queen.  This makes the story so clear and accessible for the audience, and this is made even clearer when the queen responds, relieved at the news that her daughter will not die.

No language, just the use of movement, body language and gesture.

This shows just how much we can understand through gestures, markers and signals every day in our lives without even recognising that we are doing it.  Surprisingly, we already attribute meaning to these simple gestures without the need for additional information and often without even realising we are doing it!

For me, this highlights a very valuable point – that we can all use simple gestures, movements, indications when we are communicating that will give deaf people a clearer understanding of the message we are trying to communicate.

Keep it simple – no need to use complete ‘mime’ – but it does show that through the use of a few gestures, an audience that did not understand the ‘story’ was helped along with these little hints!

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